By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Kickoff Show
Aired live on WWE Network and second hour on USA Network
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium
-The team of Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T checked in. They hyped John Cena vs. Triple H as the show opening match and ran through some of the other matches. Lawler is in his King attire. So despite the uncertainty he expressed on his podcast, the Saudis must have signed off on his King gimmick.
-A video package set up the four-way ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship.
-A Miz promo aired and he called Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and Samoa Joe terrible people. He explained that if he loses the match then his daughter will be up all night crying. He said it’s a good thing that her father is awesome.
Powell’s POV: Jim Ross was advertised for the panel, but he has not joined the crew yet.
-The focus shifted to Undertaker vs. Rusev in a casket match.
-Jinder Mahal cut a promo complaining about how he had only minutes to prepare for his recent losses to Jeff Hardy and Chad Gable. He said he’s had weeks to prepare for this match and is confident he will walk out with the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: He’s actually had less than two weeks since Hardy beat him for the title on the night of the Superstar Shakeup, but I like Mahal’s promos lately. He’s finally breaking away from the repetitive complaints about Americans.
-After the panel spoke, Sheamus and Cesaro delivered a pre-taped promo (all of the promos have been pre-taped thus far). They are the Bar.
-Jim Ross joined the panel. He said it’s always exciting to be a part of history and that’s what they were embarking on. Saxton said it was a once in a lifetime experience (that will happen at least nine more times). Ross said a lot of good was being done. They previewed the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match. They also discussed the AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match and aired a video on their program.
-They interviewed AJ Styles and asked him the very worst of questions submitted via social media. Actually, the questions were fine since they focussed on Nakamura and Styles teaming with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson on Tuesday’s Smackdown.
-A video package aired on the Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns feud.
-The panel was discussing the Lesnar vs. Reigns cage match when Paul Heyman showed up and got in their faces while making it clear that they should believe Lesnar will win the match. Heyman looked into the camera and said fans who see the show will see the declarative statement of Lesnar’s career. Heyman said Reigns won’t kick out of any F5s. Heyman said Lesnar will retain and then set his sights on the UFC Championship after that. Heyman said that’s a spoiler.
-Ross said Lesnar is the best cage fighter to ever step foot in a WWE ring.
-The panel discussed the 50-man Royal Rumble match. They showed off the trophy that the wrestlers will be fighting for. Booker said he would have entered had he known they were fighting for that particular trophy. A video aired with wrestlers talking about the Royal Rumble match (along with the awful giant word graphics). Braun Strowman said he hopes to enter first so everyone gets “these hands.” New Day spoke. Big E and Xavier Woods picked Kofi Kingston to win. Kofi said that if one of them wins then all of New Day wins. Ross said it’s Strowman’s match to lose.
-After a run through of the lineup, a video package aired on the event. The panel spoke about John Cena vs. Triple H kicking off the show. Lawler picked Cena, Ross picked Triple H, and Booker picked Cena to close the Kickoff Show.
Powell’s POV: For those watching on delay, the Kickoff Show is certainly missable. There were no matches on the show and with the event slotted for five hours, skipping this will save you an hour. That said, it was fine for what it was and the Heyman appearance was fun.
Check out my coverage of the main show in a separate post on the main page.